Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mosaic at the Otorongo Stairs

When I found out that a group of artists and volunteers were going to spruce up the Otorongo stairs I was all over it!  Yesterday we headed over there in the afternoon and got to work.  The artists were very helpful in showing the kids how to first spray the wall with water, butter the wall with cement and then find the perfect piece for the perfect spot.  Here are the results of our efforts.  We were only able to complete a small portion of the mosaic in 2 1/2 hours, but we are heading back on Monday to help again.

It is a great feeling to know that we will always be able to walk by this mosaic and point out the sections that we helped to create.  The Franklin family is officially a piece of beautiful Cuenca.

The portion already completed.

The kids are getting a lesson.

Before picture of the other side.

Picking the perfect piece.

Gi loved smashing the tiles.

Learning how to butter the wall.

Tali buttering.

Our family completed the two dark blue sections
in front of Tali.  It took us almost three hours.

Wiping off the excess cement and cleaning the tiles.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

What a gorgeous Father's Day in Cuenca!  The weather couldn't be more beautiful. 

We had a very nice breakfast at Windhorse and then Mark wanted to take a drive into the Cajas.  We stopped at Laguna Toreador to take in the views.  It was nice and warm when the sun was out, but quite chilly when it hid behind a cloud. 

I had a nice chat with a woman from Quito who was waiting for her group to come back from their hike.  I was so happy with myself to be able to converse with her entirely in Spanish.


And here is a video of Patrick enjoying himself wherever he goes.  We thought he was going to get a splinter up his ass, but instead he burnt it.

I really hate my laugh. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


On Sunday we traveled to Guayaquil to submit our paperwork for the pensioner's visa.  We got the pickiest administrator and she accepted our paperwork, so hopefully we will pass the rest of the process with flying colors.  Yay!  We will have to go back three more time to pick up the visa, apply for our cedula (country ID card) and pick up the cedula starting on the 26th of this month.

On the way through the mountains we came upon some clouds that were dancing in the valley.  Mark didn't get a picture of the clouds, but he did get some good ones of Pat and Amanda.

Pretty windy!

We decided to stay in the Grand Hotel in Guayaquil since they had a nice swimming pool.  We were not disappointed.  The pool was beautiful and they had a gorgeous sun patio with really cute lounge chairs with big fluffy pillows.  They also had a roof-top party area with a pool and foos table. It was a great place to relax in the evenings and enjoy the breeze and a few beers.  The staff was also fantastic.  Very helpful and super friendly. 

Unfortunately on our first full day, Finn cut himself on a huge piece of glass in the pool.  We think it was a broken juice glass.  It was pretty deep, but he didn't need stitches.  The hotel paid for the medic and the medication.  We were hoping and thinking that they should have paid for one night's stay as well, but no go.  Definitely different than in the states for sure. 

That meant that I was left with two children and nothing to do.  We made the best of it though.  My favorite spot was the Iguana Park right behind the hotel.  We walked by it the first night and didn't see any iguanas.  The next morning we ran into two and were beginning to think that people were exaggerating when they said that there were at least a hundred in the park.  Well, once the park official brought their food of green vegetation by the wheelbarrow full, all the iguanas started to emerge from the trees. It was pretty awesome and I could have stayed there all day watching them. 

We also went down to the Malecon (boardwalk).  It was pretty, but so hot and muggy that we didn't stay long. 

Action shot.

Beautiful setting.

The beautiful iguana mosaic statue above the pool.

Love it.

Here is the real thing.

Mom and babe?

I need to get me some lechuga!

You'd better get outta my way, little missie. 
I'm on a mission to get to the smorgasbord.

Strike a pose.

Feeding frenzy.

If the lechuga won't come to me, I will come to
the lechuga! I love the little faces of the ones below.


Finn taking a rest in the shade.  It was hot! 

Here are some links to the iguanas in action.  Can you tell that I couldn't get enough of them?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Unschooling - Part Four...If you can't beat em, join em!

For a lot of parents video games and tv are a hard pill to swallow.  Radical unschoolers believe in unlimited tv and computer time.  That is a really RADICAL way of thinking for Mark and myself, especially since we are/were teachers. 

Finn and Tali have been obsessed with a National Geographic interactive kid's game called Animal Jam.  They both have a membership, which allows them greater access to the game, but really is just a way to take more of our money.  Mark and I have been bothered by how much time they spend on the game.  Mark more than me.  For the past 4-6 months we have limited it to one hour a day.  That seemed to work well for Mark and I, but it really bugged Tali and Finn. 

For the past week I have given them unlimited access.  Mark does not approve in any way, shape or form, but I have asked him to give me time to try this style of parenting and he is obliging.  Since we have also done away with bedtimes this has meant that they have been staying up until 11:30 or 12:00 to play Animal Jam.  I was surprised to find that they have not been crabby at all during the day.  Finn has never needed much sleep so this has really helped him psychologically I think.  Tali has always been good about putting herself to sleep when tired. 

During the day they play the game, but they are also playing with their stuffed animals, Legos and Littlest Pet Shop critters.  I thought for sure that with unlimited access it would be an all day, all night thing.  But it honestly hasn't been.  Surprise, surprise.  :)

Unschooling parents also recommend getting involved in the video games that your child is loving.  So today I asked Tali to set up an account for me on Animal Jam.  You should have seen their faces!  They were so surprised that I wanted to do this.  Well, I have to tell you that honestly, its pretty cute and fun. 

First you pick an animal.  I picked a seal.  Then you get to customize it and your "den".  They start you out with a few items to decorate your den, but then you have to play the games to win more gems to buy more items.  I played the Phantom's Treasure Hidden Reef game today.  You have to find the different animals and plants hidden in the reef.  It introduces the kids to their names and habitats.  It also gives little informational cards for each animal or plant.  I actually had fun and played for quite a long time.  Another great way for me to bond with my kids.